REVIEW: Markus The Sadist at West Yorkshire Playhouse

A rap opera is not something I'd actively seek out and I went along to review Markus the Sadist at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with some degree of scepticism.

But, to my absolute surprise, I was entertained, moved and delighted in equal measures by the story of how greed and exploitation can influence talent.

Markus, playing convincingly by Ashley 'Bashy' Thomas, is a nice, but naive young man who loves his mother and, though he should be studying, works as an MC at the local hip hop club and writes rap lyrics in his spare time.

His talent is soon noticed by Top Blizzy (Nolan Weekes), a sharp-suited record label boss who uses Markus' talents to feather his own nest and gets himself, and Markus, deep in hock with The Company.

He moves to America, changes his accent and is transformed into Markus the Sadist, a crotch-grabbing, foul-mouthed rapper who idolises gun crime and incites riots among his hardcore fans, much to his poor mother's dismay.

Written and directed by Jonzi D, the action takes place on a minimalist set but an extra dimension is created by the use of news flashes charting Markus' rise to superstardom and the consequences of this.

The eight-strong cast play a multitude of roles with conviction.

None more so than Rob Broderick who switches from a French toff, to an English lord and an American army chief in the blink of an eye - it's quite fascinating to watch.

Collen Joseph is also worth a mention as Markus' girlfriend, Syreena Dream, who dances divinely, adding a touch of glamour to the proceedings.

Told mostly in rhyme and rap, the dialogue is sometimes difficult to distinguish, especially to an oldie like me but overall the production was superb and well worth a look.